Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 15, 2022



The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Could the minister please inform the chamber about the recent announcement of the Ag Town of the Year award winner for 2022?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:52): I thank the honourable member for her question and her ongoing interest in the regions. It's a great pleasure for me to be able to talk about the recent Ag Town of the Year award winner. It was my pleasure to recently announce that winner at this year's Ag Town of the Year event, and the winner of course is Mypolonga.

Known affectionately as Mypo, the town beat a strong field to win this year's award, edging out Crystal Brook, Kapunda, Orroroo and Waikerie. After having been a runner-up in 2021, Mypolonga has shown that it is well worth having another shot at the prize, and I would expect that probably all four of the other finalists who missed out this time may well be in the running in the future.

Mypolonga, home of the Mypo Tigers football and netball clubs, sits at the heart of the Murraylands in between two of the state's other great regional towns, Murray Bridge and Mannum. With a population of around 475 people, Mypo's social media hashtag throughout their successful campaign to win Ag Town of the Year was apt and powerful, #myposmallbutmighty.

Mypolonga's heritage is notable in that the area was settled by many returned soldiers after World War I, who took part in the government's Soldier Settlement Scheme. Returned soldiers, who would learn their new career skills at a training farm set up by the then government in nearby Pompoota, planted orchards and started dairies on small blocks of reclaimed swampland, establishing much of the town around about this time. Despite the difficulties they and other settlers in Mypolonga faced, they created a legacy, which lives on today with diverse agricultural interests, that has become known as a food bowl for our state and beyond.

Mypolonga's diversity is key to its current and future successes, as the town has adapted and changed quickly over the years to meet whatever challenge it has faced, whether it be floods, droughts, impacts of climate change, or simply ensuring viable and sustainable agriculture continues within the town.

Mypolonga creates produce that on its own could just about service every aisle of any supermarket, with broadacre cereal and grain; onions; garlic; citrus; pomegranate; avocado; market gardens; olives; figs; finger lime; blueberries; stone fruit; dairy products from goat, buffalo and cow; livestock, consisting of beef, sheep, chickens, pigs, bees—and the list goes on. Produce from the town, including cheeses, jam, olive oil, chutney and also, very importantly, gin, have gone on to win many awards and are found widely across the country and even at the Los Angeles farmers market.

The entrepreneurial spirit in Mypolonga is strong and continues to evolve, with South Australia's first buffalo milking herd supplying cheesemakers across South Australia and the country. Aussie Apricots not only grow fruit but create amazing value-added products from it such as jams and chutneys, choc-dipped and dried fruit, and more, in processes reducing food waste.

There is the incredible Woodlane Orchard, whose founder, Kelly Johnson, takes farmers' surplus produce and creates an amazing range of products, including soups, meals, snacks and garnishes, that often take only minutes to prepare and are now found in a number of retail locations around the state. There is also a fully automated dairy that uses a drone to wake the cows up on those early mornings. These are just a few examples of what you will find in Mypolonga.

There is a steady focus on creating interest in agriculture amongst the town's young people, with students taking part in educational and career pathways that give them exposure to the many wonderful careers that are available.

The Ag Town of the Year awards are a wonderful acknowledgement of the regions across our state that so often are the backbone of our society, providing food and fibre and contributing enormously to jobs and the economy, but they don't always get the recognition they deserve. While the winning town receives fantastic prizes such as a sign at the town entrance, certificate and trophy, a community event and sign unveiling and a double page feature in SALIFE magazine, it also gets respect and acknowledgement and that great feeling of satisfaction that comes from receiving such respect and acknowledgement.

Once again, congratulations, Mypolonga, on a very well-deserved win.